Singular Images

April 5, 2017

Bluewater Shore – Next steps to self-publish


Show-offs! (Bluewater Shore) 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Since my last update on the development of my limited edition photobook Bluewater Shore, I continue to be very busy with getting the printing completed at Dual Graphics, starting the pre-publication selling, arranging for books reviews and making pitches to some select book shops to stock and sell it.

First, printing the book at Dual Graphics (Brea, CA); we are currently tweaking the gray tones for the Fultone printing of the interior pages. Fultone printing was developed by David Gardner to improve on the duotone printing then available in the mid-1980’s, but his efforts duly impressed Ansel Adams & John Sexton that Fultone printing by Dual Graphics (at that time called Gardner Lithographic) was the best black and white book printing in the US and where they have their books printed. Since then a whole series of black and white photographers have been going to Dual Graphics to use their Fultone printing process. We are also fine tuning the color and font of the book’s exterior. I may be at Dual Graphics later this week on-press for the actually book printing. I am looking forward to that!

Since I just set my selling price after a stop at ARTBOOKS in LA last weekend to check out the competitive landscape of similar book prices, I am now able to start my campaign to pitch booksellers to stock Bluewater Shore (just received my first confirmation) in conjunction with pre-publication discount and a standard post Photo Independent book sellers discount.

Likewise in conjunction with my budding newsletter process, I am now starting to reach out to my family, friends and contacts to offer a pre-launch discounted price for the book (see below for details). This is essentially a mini-kickstarter program to pre-sell as many of the books as I can to fund my launch at Photo Independent (and pay for the final publication costs).

I have been in touch with (“pitching”) a couple of magazine and on-line zine publications about featuring Bluewater Shore. It can be a little longer process to get accepted and then published by the Editorial teams, so I needed to start that as soon as possible. I have already anticipated that for some magazines that they will only feature “original” photographic work, so my artist book which uses re-purposed vernacular photographs is a bit of an artistic stretch for them (yep, already have my first rejection slip!)

At the moment, I am anticipating that I will have the printing complete by mid-April and then I need to complete the prong binding and hand inscribe the book, book covers and the outer shell. Stay tuned!

One serendipitous outcome of this project; since I am using my family archive to draw on for the content and sadly since my parents (and their brothers and sisters) have passed, I do not know all of the identifies of those in the photographs. Photo above is my dad who plays a cameo role in the book, but then my cousin Jack just emailed me to tell me that he’s the young kid in the foreground. I suspected it might have been him, but I did not know for sure. So now I do. How cool is that?!

Regarding the above photograph, what interested me, besides the subjects, was the vernacular nature of this photograph. The the framing was off-kilter, a trade mark of an amateur photograph, and the spontaneity of the subjects. A classic candid vacation photo which I felt was ideally suited for this summer holiday narrative.

Btw, if you have become interested in purchasing Bluewater Shore, I do have a pre-publication sale going on right now (sort of a personal Kickstarter program), which is $40.00 USD (includes shipping and handling within the USA). The price increases to $47.00 USD on April 21st at Photo Independent (Los Angles). So I can honestly say that this is a limited time offer! (contact me off-line:


January 8, 2017

Bluewater Shore artist book update


Bluewater Shore copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

So if life is not crazy enough, I might be also looking to self-publish in 2017 my photobook Bluewater Shore, the second in my series of Holiday Snaps project (the first being Pine Lake). Honestly, this project took a little holiday when (1) it took a lot of energy to market and sell Pine Lake in 2014, (2) I did not have the investment funds to print it (even after I received a much better quote) and worse (3), I lost (okay it turns out I miss placed it) my completed book dummy for Bluewater Shore. After searching for this darn thing for almost six months I was feeling a bit deflated and although I had all of the pieces to build another dummy, I just did not feel like doing it.

Well that all changed yesterday, while looking for something else in back of my files I spied a little bit of baby blue; could it be?? Yep, there was my Bluewater Shore book dummy in the oddest of files.My bad. But finding this bookdummy was very, very nice!

So I have been back working on the digital files for the interior of this book today while confirming that the sequence that I developed two years ago still made sense. Yep, looking good! The nice thing about the conceptual intent for this narrative is that it is sequenced in a chronological order, much as you would go thru a roll of processed film after a holiday vacation, similar in narrative style of Pine Lake. Second, I now have the funds to go to print and complete that aspect. The limited edition is till going to be 100 copies, which I am still planning to hand bind and then personally inscribe each book. Since I do have all of the parts, maybe I can have this completed for the Spring book season, so stayed tuned if this artist book is of interest.

Oh, like Pine Lake, I am still thinking of adding a few little extras ;- )



January 3, 2014

New Year – 2014


untitled (working title: Bluewater Shore) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale

At the beginning of the year I like to think about what I might accomplish for the coming year, with this being more of a bunch of loose-goosey planing objectives. Having worked in corporate for tooo many years, I know how rigid and constricting a plan can get. As an artist, I think that having some objectives is actually a good thing, e.g. to ensure that I try some new things and explore some wild ideas. Allow myself to listen to the faint whispering of my creative muse.

One of the fun things that evolved last year was my first artist photobook Pine Lake. All in all, I am very satisfied with this artist photobook and I had kinda realized that if this worked out well enough (translation: I sold some), that I would do at least one more, if not two. Truth is I did more than just selling some, as about all of the Edition is gone. The response to the Pine Lake book has been delightful!

Even while developing Pine Lake, I was already planning for a second book in this series that investigates memory, family, relationships, nostalgia and loss. Similar to Pine Lake, this will be another semi-fictional short story with this one based on a young woman and her girlfriends going on a holiday to the shore set in the late 1940’s using “found” anonymous photographs that perchance were residing in my family’s old photo albums.

This second artist photobook will also incorporate some lessons learned from self-publishing Pine Lake. I will elaborate on those changes in the coming weeks as I finish the design and publishing as I am still tweaking some of these changes. Nevertheless I do plan to have the actual stiff cover book about the same size as Pine Lake, what I am unsure of at this time is to also include the outer custom frame. I also want to increase the edition size in order to have copies available to send to reviewers, something that I was unable to do with Pine Lake. So this book will be similar but yet different.

For now, I am working on creating my book dummy and to my initial point above, my objective is to have a book dummy to carry around with me at photo l.a. that starts on January 17 – 19 at the LA Mart. In this case, my book dummy is not to share with any publishers but rather I have a number of friends who I usually meet up with at photo l.a. and I want to bounce this project off their creative skulls. And the best way to obtain great feedback is to have a book dummy that they can play with.

So enough of this, I need to get back to printing the test images :- D


December 15, 2013

New artist book project with pamphlet stitching


Untitled (Union Ice Picks) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale.

While I was developing my artist book Pine Lake, I had started selecting photographs for what will probably be the second artist book in this series about memory, family, nostalgia and remembrance. I am also going to make some changes for this next book, one of which is to produce a limited number of flip books in conjunction with the artist book. I will self-publish both versions and for the stand alone flip-book, I am planing to incorporate a pamphlet binding process.

For the pamphlet bind, it is essentially uses a stabbing tool (awl) to pierce through the interior picture block and outer covers (three holes minimum) and then sewn with an inter-looping pattern and tied off inside the book. Okay, I have never done this before, but how hard can this be to learn, eh?

The awl tool that is prescribed for the paper stabbing has a long slender pointed steel rod fixed to a wooden handle. hmmmm, where had I seen something similar in my grandfather’s steel tool chest? Yep, there in lay three very old ice picks, two of which were pretty grungy and were a pair that I had avoided touching for some twenty years. Time to clean ’em up!

My biggest concern is the condition of the tips, as they need to be both sharp and straight, which neither of the three are even close. Since I will be working with some very old photographs for this project, perhaps not as old as the ice picks, to use these ice picks in conjunction with creating these books I think would be very symbolic.

So time to figure out how to clean these three little guys up! Another fun aspect of these artist books, more trouble to get into.


September 16, 2013

Artist Book Project PL – another step closer


Untitled (Custom made wood frame with cover attached) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

It appears that I am getting closer and closer to the publication of Pine Lake, my artist book project. In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, the glue has dried and my cover is intact on my custom made wood frame. whohooo! Nevertheless I need to fine tune the glue application process as it could look a little more elegant when completed. Likewise, as I look at the above photo of the results, I also need to tap in the framing brads a little more.

Meanwhile, printing the top cover was a bit vexing, as the revised increase in size to accommodate the wrap around the case spine did not allow me to use my desk top printer. About 1/2″ toooo wide. sheese. So I fired up the Epson 4800 and after some tweaking of the paper size & feed, arrived at some nice results. Which until I am ready to publish this project, I used a very shallow depth of field to obscure the text in the photo.

As to the questions I posed yesterday, I think I have my answer for the ISBN. I posted this question on a couple of Facebook photobook groups and some great responses. Short answer is that an ISBN is probably good for a high volume trade book but not necessary for a small edition artist book like mine. Cool! No ISBN for Pine Lake.

So I continue to work on my other two open questions.

Meanwhile I still have a few more details to take care of, such as completing the development of a web page for this project, which is almost there. I still need a couple more images to add to help illustrate the project. I have started to reach out to a couple of specialty bookstores and I am organizing an pre-sales email blast to those who purchased my book Ciociaria who will get first dibs on purchasing this project.


Oh yeah, for those who are very inquisitive about this mysterious project, I am leaving more clues.

September 15, 2013

Artist Book Project PL – update


Untitled (Interior of custom made wood frame) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale

Back in August, I thought that I was posting the most boring photograph about Pine Lake, my artist book project, which I had taken to call by a code name: PL. Perhaps in first glance that appears even MORE boring, but I beg to differ as I see that this object now has a more refined elegance. Okay, as to the object, it is the an interior view of my custom made wood frame for my artist book (dummy version #2). This is the base of the frame glued to the hardwood framing. Gone are the belts & suspenders and this frame now appears very clean and nice.

I have let the PL project set a little while pondering the next question, how to attache the cover without using another set of belt and suspenders? For my first book dummy, I had used double stick tape to hold the top cover in place. The problem is that in about an hour later the top cover was starting off the frame, as the double stick was not doing the job. So then after some aesthetic contemplation, I used two more 3/8″ staples to hold the cover in place (not shown), which worked but looked like crap. The corner edges were still lifting and I did not like the appearance of the staples. Similar to my concerns for the bottom of the frame, I did not want those staples to inadvertently bung-up another book that might be placed in close approximation.

And then I arrived at another elegant solution which is being tested out. I am using the same wood glue for the hardwood frame to glue the top cover on. To ensure that it will stay in place, I am also gluing the top cover to the frame spine and then wrapping it around to glue on the one frame edge. I will use the bone tool to provide a double crease to allow the top cover flap to open easily. More about that later.

So now I have some other issues to consider for this project and hopefully obtain some nice feedback.

First is the edition size of the artist book? Initially I was thinking of an edition of 100 books but now thinking that this may be too many for my first artist book. I have noticed that others have keep the edition sizes at about 25, so this is now my current thinking. I had been targeting a couple of artist book stores in Europe, but with the recent shipping of a book to Europe, the price has increase about $10.00, almost doubling the cost to $23.00. Yikes, this is going to be an expensive artist book outside the U.S. So now I am looking at four or five artist/photo book stores in the U.S. which reduces that amount of books I might be able to sell.

Second question is do I need to obtain an ISBN for this artist book? I have frequently seen the ISBN for editions of 100 but not for small edition artist books. The issue is that obtaining an ISBN costs about $125.00 and then when that is amortized over 10, 20 or even 25 books, it starts to raise my cost and reduce my margins for book store pricing. Especially if I plan to produce 25 books but actually sell less than that (early supporter gifts, maybe a review copy or two and one reserved for exhibitions). The one upside is that acquiring the ISBN provides a little more visibility for the book.

Last question is the most delicate one, the price. I am sure that my collectors would like this to be as low as possible while other artist point to all of the indirect costs of producing the book that should be incorporated. There is a lot of my labor in these books; constructing the outer shell, printing the interior cover and pages, the hole punching and the finally assemblies. Especially since I am thinking that this artist book may be available only through a few select artist book stores, so I need to discount the cost of the book to them. Or maybe sell half of the edition through bookstores and sell half myself. Just not sure at the moment.


August 26, 2013

Artist Book Project PL


untitled (belt & suspenders – book dummy 1) by Douglas Stockdale

Well this ought to be the most boring photograph that I have or maybe ever will post.

This year my summer photographic project has been very interesting; to self-publish a limited edition (photographic) artist book. Actually a very fun project without dead lines while just working out some ideas. I want to tie up the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) before I reveal the title, I have been calling this Project PL, incorporating the initials of the proposed book title.

This project has provided a lot of learning experiences while I work out my book design. In this particular instance, it is the development of the outside case for this artist book. For a limited edition book, I have always thought that these should have some kind of outside cover; slipcover at a minimum to perhaps best, a clamshell box.

So a couple of years ago at PhotoLA, Hiroshi Watanabe and I had an opportunity to spend some time with  Raymond Meeks. He is developing some interesting photographic artist books, but in the process, he also constructs an outside container that he quickly assembles that incorporates something that holds and preserves his fragile objects. It was interesting, but a design that I did not feel that I could build.

So while working on my first draft of book dummy for the Project PL, I realized that I needed an outside shell to hold the contents. Thinking back to Meeks and his outer case, I decided to borrow on his concept and came up with an idea for a deign that I might be able to easily construct. So off to Lowe’s Hardware store and a couple of artist supply stores with my conceptual design list. I found some components that allowed me to build the first prototype, but I quickly figured out some needed changes to downsize the size of the frame (dowls) and strength the frame using a different wood.

So when I realize that I had the conceptual idea figured out, my project was at a point that I considered it to be complete enough to construct the first book dummy. So with the materials of construction pretty well defined, I was still incorporating belt and suspenders for the baes as I was unsure of how strong the wood glue that I was using would be able to protect my interior book and parts.

So after letting the glue almost dry while building this outside case, I then used a stable gun to drive some 3/8″ staples into each corner to really ensure the base was on tight and would be strong enough. I quickly figured out that I needed only one of these staples per corner to do the job.

When I needed to tweak the overall design a little, I started developing my book dummy #2. But now I had spent enough time with the book dummy #1 that I decided that this outside case with the staples was (1) probably overkill and (2) did not look very elegant (okay, just plain ugly). Also, if I did not drive those staples in far enough, this outside case (3) could be a hazard to other books sharing the book shelf space.

So when I finished the gluing of the bottom cover to the wood frame for the second dummy, I let the base dry without adding the staples. Bingo! The wood glue was sufficient as it appeared that I would destroy the bottom base before I could get it to separate from the wood frame. Added bonus, while sorting this design aspect out, I came up with a great idea of how to make this outer case look even better with a wrap-around and glued cover flap.

As I shared with another photographer over these past couple of days, this aspect of the book design process is really fun and interesting.


August 24, 2013

ANSCO – Snapfolio


ANSCO Snapfolio booklet cover

I was aware of the Kodak processing promotional booklets, but until recently, I was not aware that ANSCO, their film processing competitor in the 1950’s and 60’s, had a similar film processing promotion.  That was until I was sorting through my Grandmother’s family photo collection that had been passed down to me.

I had earlier found a number of the small Kodak booklets that with the Kodak “yellow” softcovers, jumped out of the piles of family photos. That was not necessarily the case for the ANSCO booklets even with their big swatch of red, which is a dull color in comparison to the Kodak yellow.  Interesting to compare and contrast these little film processing booklets not to mention the family photographs with hand written notes on the backs.



July 17, 2013

Chugging along

Filed under: Gardening for Ordnance, Projects/Series, SNAPS — Douglas Stockdale @ 7:40 pm


untitled (Kapalua, Maui) copyright 2013, Douglas Stockdale.

It seems like I have a bunch of balls in the air at the moment, nothing final to report, just that I am moving forward and hopefully making some progress.

My Gardening for Ordinance project is on a temporary hold while I gain some confidence in asking some folks to model for me, but I am getting some traction on this front. Trouble is that after my first attempt, my subject would not sign the model release. sigh. Nevertheless some good experience, but I’m going to work on some other projects before coming back to this.

SNAPs project is coming along and now looks like two artist book projects, first will be the smaller (less expensive) while sorting out the bigger project. For the first of the two, I am into the third book dummy, each one becoming more specific and detailed as to what the artist book will look like. Still not ready to commit to the purchase of the ISBN for the title, but I researched the title to know that it does not have an ISBN attached to this specific one yet, but at the moment as a placeholder, I am calling it a SNAPfolio.

So in the meantime, trying to find all of the materials to construct this SNAPfolio has been a lot of fun. It was like a memory of a child hood treasure hunt; instead of a gang of kids going door-to-door, more of an adult version in which I had my list and drove from store-to-store looking for something that resembled what I wanted. Resulted in some nice conversations with the folks at the stores as they listened to what I was looking for and they participated in finding the specific item or offering alternatives. It became somewhat collaborative in a sense.

As I have been creating this SNAPfolio, I keep adding more and more to it, so it is more and more of an art project that appears like an artist book. I borrowed a page from Raymond Meeks, so I have developed a hardcover casing to ship (and store) this project in. I now have a second generation prototype and it looks charming.

I am  borrowing a page from Pierre Bessard, my publishing friend in Paris, and will create this as limited edition of 100 copies. The trouble is that my printing and binding cost will not as low as Bessard’s, but no matter as that aspect is a lesser issue at the moment. Nevertheless, I have been seeking alternative sources to help reduce the costs of materials, so that has also been an interesting pursuit.

This project has also been taking time away from what I usually spend on my photobook narratives, so the postings to The PhotoBook have less frequent recently.

Looking back, the current route dose seem to be a little bit erratic and a zigzag path, but that’s the fun of being an artist versus a project manager; serendipity can play a bigger role in my life.

Oh, as to the photograph above with this post, it has no bearing on anything; I saw, I photographed and as it is not related to any project, it is a case of random “seeing”.  enjoy.


June 27, 2013

Kodak processing booklets

Filed under: Books, Photography, Pine Lake - artist book, Projects/Series, SNAPS — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 8:59 pm


untitled (Charlene, Phoenix, 1955) copyright Douglas Stockdale

While working on my SNAPS project, I have been evaluation some photographs that are still in their original Kodak processing folders or booklets. If I recall, Kodak was providing these booklets as a bonus with a set of the larger prints.

I notice that for these Kodak booklets, the enclosed photographs within the stiff covers have the same scalloped outside edges on all four sides and the top side of the photograph is still attached to the booklet’s spine, but perforated to easily detach without tearing the photograph in the process. The perforation appears to be more of a punch-out that leaves a narrow piece of paper still holding the photograph in place, versus a roller perforation that is common today..

So as I work on the SNAPS project, I am beginning to think about recreating a faux Kodak film booklet as a variation. For the SNAPS concept, I am investigating the fragmented memories of a vacation road trip Out West. Nevertheless I have collected two other lesser bodies of work that investigate this same theme about incomplete memory; one is a weekend get-away to the shore and the other is more of a guy’s fishing trip (Gone Fish’en).
Trouble is that I don’t want to really deconstruct one of these booklets to figure out the details, but I think upon close examination, I can obtain enough information to create a close approximation. I do have some artistic license in this process, don’t you know!


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